tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC April 17, 2013 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
make life bad for the people of boston, but all they can ever do is show just how good those people are. good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. there have been potentially significant developments in the boston terror investigation today amid a lot of conflicting media reports. here's what we know at this time. nbc news is reporting that investigators have obtained video of a person placing a black bag down near the scene of that second blast on monday. and then walking away. that footage reportedly came from a surveillance camera at a nearby lord & taylor store. the video reportedly shows the person's face and authorities are looking to question that individual. this afternoon the fbi denied reports from other media outlets that an arrest had been made in the case. meanwhile, investigators today continued collecting forensic
evidence from the attack site as they learn more about the bomb used. nbc news reports that the bomb's triggering mechanism was fairly sophisticated. it included a battery pack and a circuit board. both of which were recovered at the scene. investigators also caution that there is no indication at this time of any connection to groups overseas. we're expecting, by the way, a 5:00 p.m. press conference from the fbi and other officials, but that press conference has been postponed. we don't know how long. meanwhile, within the last half hour, the u.s. senate has voted down the compromise deal on expanded background checks put forth by senators joe manchin of west virginia and pat toomey of pennsylvania. the vote was 54 for, 40 votes against. we'll bring you that as it happens. let's begin, however, with the latest on the investigation into the boston bombings. clint van zandt is a former fbi
profiler. james cavanaugh is a retired atf, alcohol, tobacco and firearms special agent in charge. let me start with clint. i want to run through the evidence with you. we have now not a suspect, but there is a picture of someone putting down that bag. we know it involved a pressure cooker from yesterday and a circuit board. we know from today it involved a battery pack. where are we? what's it all add up to now as you see it, clint? >> number one, we've got a lot of good forensic evidence. i've had the good fortune to work with them before on cases. between the fbi and atf there's probably no better lab. as jim will tell you, when a bomb goes off, it may get blown to bits, but those are bits that we can recover. that his agency and the fbi can put together. they can understand the device. and perhaps find a signature aspect to that. so we've got a forensic investigation that's going on as far as the bomb and where it went off and what it was
composed of and who may have built it. we also have what you just talked about, chris, that photographic evidence. as you and i talked yesterday, i guarantee you yesterday and today there are photographs of the individual or individuals who placed those devices. we just have to separate the weak from the -- in this case the killers from the crowd and we'll know who did that. >> let me go over to mr. cavanaugh. james, it seems to me a picture dh can be blown up and stud did, what more would you want actually than someone dropping the black bag and walking away from the bomb site? >> chris, i've worked many cases over the years with no pictures at all. so it is extremely valuable. it's going to be the thing that breaks the case wide open. it's going to be the achilles hill of the bomber who clint will tell you, and good to see you, clint. we've worked together many years ago. it's going to be his achilles heel. he went to the marathon for the stage of terrorism. he wanted the attention. and what's going to undo him is the attention.
the cameras he wanted are going to be his undoing. i hope the fbi and the atf, the boston police, state police, u.s. attorney, the task force, i hope that they'll release those pictures. i think they'll get the guy identified pretty quickly. i do think they probably tried to, and i've done the same thing in many cases. we did it with the d.c. sniper. clint's done it before. you try to identify the person yourself first. because if you can do it before it goes all over the world you can maybe get a surveillance on them. >> what is the downside of doing the classic wanted poster now that we have social media and we have television and cable? back to you, clint. why not just flash that picture, whatever form it's in, whatever degree of resolution, and see if people don't find that guy or person? >> probably -- probably three words. olympic park bomber. when we think back to richard joule who was originally suggested as a potential suspect in that, atf and fbi and other agencies, we were in a foot race against the media trying to get the information. investigative report rs are out
there talking to everybody, perhaps tainting the information before the investigators can get their hands on it. and, chris, you look at those pictures today. there was plus or minus 1,000 people outside of that courthouse wanting to see a glimpse of who the authorities were going to bring in. now, you don't want to have to deal with a crowd. if i was an fbi agent involved in this case, i wouldn't say a word to anybody in the media until i had my case put together, this guy in handcuffs and had him behind bars. i wouldn't -- >> let's go with this. >> i wouldn't enter a foot race with the media. >> there's also potential for escape. and let me go back to jim -- james on this. how do you catch the guy if you don't go looking for him now and find him as fast as you can? because he now knows, if it's a he, he now knows we have a picture. he is gone. he's on the run. he's not going to stick around the boston area or she isn't. they're going places. they're going to go as fast as their car can get them to canada, mexico, wherever else they're going to go.
why would you want to stall and wait for more information. wouldn't you want to flash the picture on the screen? people can say, that's my brother, that's the guy -- >> exactly, chris. it's the commander's decision. it's like churchill said. the leader's always on the pr precipice of caution and overdare overdaring. it's a fall on either side. i think they have to make the call like you're saying. i have to carefully consider, do we have a good chance of finding out who this photograph is ourselves over the next 24 to 48, 72 hours? if we don't, then there's a chance he could make another bomb. other people could be hurt. so we need to leverage the power of the media, the power of the digital media, the power of the public, who want to help us and put this out. it's going to happen just like you said. somebody's going to call and say, it's him. it's him. it's him. you'll get some false positives. i'll turn in uncle freddy and my old boyfriend.
we've all had that stuff happen. but they might just get the name. if they get the name they might just put that together. and if frentices kick up on the pressure cooker with a fingerprint, dna, fingerprint on the tape, purchase at the store, matching a purchase, cell phone in the locale of the bombs, there's electric circuit boards in both of these. we still don't know how they were detonated. were they detonated by a cell phone? that 12 second could have been the bomber redialing. >> let me go back to clint. then i'll be back to you, james. it seems to me you have to deal -- i'm not a dick tracy. i'm just trying to do this. it seems to me if you've got a guy, a person there who knows now that they're being pursued to the point of having a picture of them taken, if they're the guilty person, if they're the bomber, what is the flight risk? maybe if you can identify the person you'll eventually catch him anyway. there's no real rush to chase him.
how do you put those things together? the need to catch him before he gets out of town or leaves the country or the need to do more careful work in making sure who it is? >> my best case scenario, chris, is that the authorities already have this guy in pocket. they know where he's at. they have some type of a surveillance on him. they want to see what he's up to. they want to monitor his phone calls. they want to see if there's anybody else involved before they grab him and, perhaps, lose the ability to do that. the flip side, just like you're saying, and what jim was talking about, if you consider the d.c. sniper where the authorities had the license plate of that car and made a decision not to give it out and the public, of course, was who ultimately helped to solve that when that truck driver saw that car parked at the rest area. so there's a delicate balance there. the authorities would rather do it themselves. but, look, the american public, 310 million strong, that's a real force multiplier and investigative asset that we
can't turn our backs on. >> before i leave you, clint, who would have put out the word today, a federal -- a lot of other networks are doing this. luckily we have pete william here to guard the truth and make sure we get it right. but other networks without pointing to anybody, they have had the problem, federal officials, i'm looking through all the clips. maybe just one, maybe a very busy federal official has been running around today telling news people and major networks and wire services, hey, look, they made an arrest. how did that happen, clint? who is this person that says i know they did. hard fact. >> number one, yeah, it shouldn't have happened. we don't know who it was. but, look, when you get that many agencies involved, somebody's looking to make points. unfortunately, the points they make could compromise an investigation. but when you have upwards of 60 different agencies involved in a case like this, loose lips can sink a case. >> you think it's possible there has been someone as you say in pocket or what's the -- do you think this person has been narrowed down to? do they have the person in a case or they have them in some
sort of contained circumstance they can't get away? is that possible? that they wouldn't announce that? >> my best case scenario, again, if i was in law enforcement at this time, i wouldn't tell anything to the media until i had my whole case put together. you're going to have one chance at this guy. you've got to make the best case you can. as soon as his name or address goes public, you know, the media hoards are going to descend on this whole thing. as an investigator, make your case, then let the media come in. >> what more do you need, you first then jim, than a picture of a guy or person dropping a black bag at the site of a bombing and then splitting? what more evidence would you need to make a case in court than that? >> well -- >> picture of a person. >> that's circumstantial evidence. unless we have a movie of him actually doing it, unless we know that black bag was actually it. you know, there's too many ways as you well know that you can be attacked in court for different reasons, suggesting his hand's
really not on the bag and maybe somebody dropped it a second before he walked by. there's a lot to put together from the forensic side other than a picture where he's walking by slapping a bag. there are going to be people of interest in this case. there's going to be likely one bomber. >> well, we'll have to see, james, how good a picture this is. this could be a really, as you said a few moments ago, this could be a very convicting picture. this could be someone clearly putting a bag down in that spot where we've watched that fume of smoke coming up next to the trash can. >> it's going to be a huge piece of evidence. i agree with clint. you have to match the forensics. you have to match the components. i was a deputy commander on the d.c. sniper for atf. we always said when we find mohammed, and we got him on a federal firearms warrant, by the way. when we get him he'll have the guns with him. they'll be in the car. we used the federal firearms law to catch those guys. when we put the tag number out, we put it out like clint's describing. we said to the command post
right there, we're going to give all our law enforcement here in the area 12 hours to find these guys on the road. at 8:00 in the morning, we're going to have a press conference and announce the tag number. this was about 4:00 the previous day. it will probably leak to the media tonight. if it doesn't, 8:00 torl morning the chiefs are standing up putting the tag numbers out. if the troopers can find him tonight, we'll do it. by 10:00, clint said, it was already leaked. we knew it was leaked. they were stopped at the rest area. you have a strategy. >> every time i pumped gas during that period i was looking around all 360 degrees. i wanted to know where that guy was. he seemed to like people at gas stations. secretary of state john kerry was testifying today before the house foreign affairs committee. he spoke emotionally about his home state of massachusetts and what happened there on monday. let's listen. >> it's impossible for me to express my sadness and my anger, frankly, over those terrible events. i've talked this week with friends and family up there as
recently as this morning. and the granddaughter of a very, very close supporter and friend of mine through all my political career is fighting to keep both of her legs. the -- boston is not going to be intimidated by this. but we're going to find out who did this. >> that's the spirit. anyway, let me go through this. clipt, let's go through the evidence so people are catching up now. as i said yesterday, they had a line on it being a pressure cooker. they got a piece of that today apparently. a circuit board yesterday. then today and yesterday also pieces of black nylon from a bag apparently. then today the battery pack. how do you put all that together with the video we have from lord & taylor? >> well, we know, for example, the pressure cooker was a six liter. not a 1 1/2 gallon but a six liter. that has obviously an overseas connotation to it. so between the fbi and atf, they will trace that down. they will trace down the nuts, the bolts, the ball bearings,
the bbs inside. we know there was black powder left on -- left where the explosive went off. atf or the fbi lab will be able to identify that explosive. remember, chris, it was in 2011 that a former u.s. soldier built two similar devices at ft. hood that he was going to use against the military. he was apprehended because the store where he bought the black powder reported him to the police as someone buying too much powder. when they conducted a search warrant, they found he was constructing these two devices to kill soldiers. so those leads are going to be out there. where did he buy this? where did he buy that? if we find two or three or four places where the different components were purchased or may have been bought from, link it back to the guy you're talking about in the picture, that's going to be the evidence we need. >> okay. well said. thank you, clint van zandt. of course, james cavanaugh as well. thank you for joining us on this important night. much more on the
investigation into the boston terror attack. we're going to talk to massachusetts governor deval patrick later on in the hour. also coming up, the big political story of the day. that compromised deal on expanding background checks, the one we've been following for weeks goes down in defeat. only 54 votes. a democratic leader is going to be talking about that during this hour. this is "hardball," the place for politics. [ male announcer ] you are a business pro. omnipotent of opportunity. you know how to mix business... with business.
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we're going to get to that senate vote on guns in just a minute, literally. right now nbc's michael isikoff joins us from boston with the latest on the investigation. michael, everybody in america who's on watching television or whatever they're watching, listening to radio, wants to know who this person is. we have, we're told, a picture, a video of a person dropping a black bag down on the ground and leaving. what more do we have? >> reporter: well, it's not clear. we were hoping to get some answers this afternoon. there was supposed to be a 5:00
briefing. that's been postponed because of the evacuation of the federal courthouse. that evacuation has now been called off. we've gotten the all clear. but it delayed federal -- law enforcement officials from getting over to the westin hotel where we were supposed to have the briefing. we're still hoping it's going to come this afternoon or early this evening. look, the main point is, all we know for sure is that there is a video of a man dropping off this black bag. one -- it's not clear that federal authorities know who that person is, much less have talked to him. they may have a face. they may not have a name. that's something we've gotten conflicting reports on and no hard confirmation that they do know a name, much less have taken anybody into custody as had been reported by some news media earlier today. what we are left with, all we know for sure, is a face. one thing i should point out
that i think has been forgotten in all this, that photo of the -- the footage of the bag being dropped off was an hour before the blast went off. so we don't have confer mags that that bag was the one that contained the bomb. and if it did, you have to think about whether or not the bomber would have left the bag with the bomb for an hour before the blast. that seems like a long time. it doesn't mean that it didn't take place. but it is a question that i think anybody should ask before they get too hardly fixed on the idea that that is the footage of the bomb itself. >> not to put it together completely, but wouldn't that suggest why they had a battery pack, that it was, in fact, timed? >> reporter: right. no. certainly the battery pack -- the battery pack, by the way, we have some new information on the
battery pack this afternoon. it was made by a company in california. and it's used mainly to power toy cars and trucks and sold in hobby stores and toy stores. and tens of thousands have been sold in the past year. it's going to be very difficult to trace to an individual purchaser. right, yes, the battery pack could have been used -- would have been provided power for a length of time. and that is a piece of the puzzle. but, look, with so many conflicting and confusing reports, i think it is probably better at this point to be cautious than to speculate too much. as i said, we do not have hard confirmation that that bag is the one that was used for the bomb. you know, certainly you can build a circumstantial case that there might be a relationship, but i think we better wait. >> do we know in hard terms the gender of this person whose picture appeared on that tape?
>> it's been described as a male, but they -- they certainly haven't released the footage. we'll have to wait and see. >> there's been so much floating out there about the baseball cap and the hood and all these elaborate descriptions. we had nbc haven't accepted any of that as fact yet. what do you know about all that? what is your sense of how these words spoken by a federal official or several federal officials throughout the afternoon that an arrest had been made? you're up there covering. what do you make of those actually false reports? >> reporter: in a high profile case like this with international interest and constant 24/7 media attention, things that get said that turn out to be wrong. and we've seen that time and again in past cases. certainly there was a lot of misreporting, you remember, during the newtown tragedy in those first couple of days.
you can go back in the history of high-profile cases, going back to the atlanta olympic bombing in 1996 when federal authorities got it wrong and identified a suspect who turned out to be entirely innocent. the anthrax case in 2001. you know, there's the media getting it wrong and then there's also federal authorities getting it wrong. at least at this point the fbi in its public comments has been very cautious. it's shot down the erroneous reports of an arrest earlier today. but there's still a lot of unanswered questions about this case. just going back to some of the particulars that we do know. that bag that was dropped off was by the lord & taylor, a couple hundred yards from where i am right now, that was the second bomb blast. it was about 100 yards from the
first -- where the first bomb blast took place. now, those are two bombs described yesterday as heavy. they'd been reported anywhere between 20 to 40 pounds. it does raise a question about whether one individual could have dropped -- could have arrived at this scene with all the law enforcement presence that there was at the boston marathon with two lumpy black nylon bags and not be noticed and not be conspicuous. so that raises the question if it wasn't, you know, was this more than one bomber? was this a conspiracy? again, i'm speculating here. we don't know. these are unannalsunanswered qu. we shouldn't draw any conclusions. but i think it's an open question at this point whether this was one or two individuals or perhaps more. and, of course, the larger question that everyone wants to
know is was this domestic or international? was it something along the lines of the oklahoma city bombing, a militia extremist individual, or some islamic jihadi? >> michael isikoff, great reporting. you've always been a ferocious reporter. thank you for coming on tonight. when we return, we're expecting president obama to make remarks at the white house tonight at that defeat. it is a big defeat for him and all the gun safety people. we expect him to come around 5:30, any minute now. that bill, by the way, we've been following it here for days now, the manchin/toomey compromise is not going to happen, at least not for a while. and this is "hardball," the place for politics. [ male announcer ] how do you measure happiness?
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amendment. 64-46. a hard breaker. four republicans voted for the measure. pat toomey who put it together with joe manchin. john mccain heroically here. mark kirk of illinois. and another moderate republican, susan collins of maine. now, on the democratic sides, those votes no were no surprises here. mark bagitch of rural alaska. mark pryor of another red state. majority leader harry reid voted no. that's procedural so he can vote to reverse the vote. it's a senate technique. president obama will be making remarks in the rose garden right there at 5:30 eastern, a few minutes from now. casey hunt and howard fineman. casey, you and i have been -- you've been helping me on the phone the last couple of days. it looks to me a pretty dreary result in that it looked like it was moving up before the horror in boston a week or two. i'm not sure, did it ever look
to you like it was going to reach 60 and then fell back? or was it never really close enough to 60 to make it? >> the point at which we -- the mood up here said that it could reach 60 was really that vote that they held to start debate on the gun bill. that got more republican votes than folks up here had expected. it's kind of been a downhill slide ever since then. this coat, there were many more republicans this time around as you just showed who voted no on manchin/toomey at the end of the day, even though they voted to start this debate. >> then it goes back to howard and i. howard, you don't think that was a good leading indicator. 69 that say let's debate this, at least. >> no, it's not. because my understanding is that the national rifle association basically let people vote the way they wanted. >> that was a free vote. >> that was a free vote. they said, we're not going to score that. meaning we're not going to put that in our e-mails. we're not going to put it on the web. we're not going to go after you, mr. republican, for allowing the debate to begin. that was even one step too far
for the nra. what they were also doing was drawing everybody into the debate. come on in. then we'll show you what we can do. then they put the hammer down on this vote that kasie's talking about where they said, yes, we're scoring this one. we're going to hold you accountable for this one. that's one of the main reasons -- >> that's politically. not that they're the good guys, they're not. but that's a good sign of smart politics. otherwise if they had said let's score the debate, these guys would look like real bad guys. >> they would look -- they would look like they were afraid. >> go ahead and vote, but we're voting against you. >> that's exactly what they do. >> kasie, let's go through some cases. i'm always amazed by john mccain. there's a good john mccain, not so good john mccain. let's go to the good john mccain. he's really the only red stater of his party to cross the aisle and vote with basically gun safety people. and he's from arizona. what do you know about that? >> and one of the only westerners as well. >> only westerner. >> this was a pretty classic
case of john mccain the maverick, if you will. he broke from his other home state senator, the junior senator jeff flake who was under a lot of pressure to vote with democrats on this bill. when he went and said last night that he was going to vote no, that was one of the tipping points. that was when people up here started to really say, you know what? we don't think we can get this. >> it was like trying to get an inside straight. there's seven people. you needed five of thel. it was really tough. >> it was difficult to get. kasie's absolutely right. flake is somebody who talked bravely about this. and who was sort of, i think, somewhat influenced by mccain. then pulled back at the end. he doesn't want to take on the nra. >> let's pull back the microscope. you're good at this. what's this mean to america? we had newtown, connecticut, right before the end of the year. here we are just three or four months later, nothing. nada. good-bye to gun safety. >> i think it's a devastating comment on washington as a whole. i think washington is now the place where change goes to die. and barack obama gave us hope or
gave some people hope that that would not be the case anymore. and he's shaken things up. and he has gotten things done. but here's a case where the nature, the ingrained nature of this system here in washington, which was basically designed to defeat change, once again came into place. washington is now a sort of conservative force in american life. conservative with a small "c." not a leading force in american life. >> the senate's been called a cooling saucer. you had your tea in the old days, drink the tea, put it in the saucer and let it cool. this time was it good to let it cool? by turning it over to biden, letting him set up a commission, waiting two months to get anything done, if they had struck when the iron was hot to keep this metaphor going, right after the tragedy, wouldn't they have at least have gotten extended background checks? >> that's certainly an argument that critics are making of how the administration and how majority leader harry reid has happened this. there's been a lot of criticism over the course of this about
how democrats have done it. majority leader reid if you'll remember told senator feinstein in a sort of abrupt way her assault weapons ban wasn't going to be included in what became the base of this bill. that really got some democrats upset. there's definitely been missteps along the way from their perspective for sure. >> how about the timing issue, kasie? just the idea of why did we wait four months to have a critical, crucial, national vote on something that required or would have allowed an emotional response, but all these months later, all it allowed was a professional response? a cya action by a lot of rural senators. i understand cya. they want to be career senators. you can't be a career senator in some cases if you're the known enemy of the nra. but it took them all these months to get confident in voting against gun safety, it seems. >> that's the way this system has been set up. to put a delay in there to take all of this time to actually go through the process that's needed just to bring this kind of bill around. and these senators who voted with the nra, as you mentioned, they've often cited in private
conversations with me the long view. they say that the nra has a longer memory than any of these gun safety groups who've come out. >> we're watching -- excuse me, kasie. we're watching people walk out to the rose garden. there's gabby giffords who was badly wounded with a head wound back when she was pretty much assassinated, attempted as nation. then you see the father of one of the young kids who was killed. they're all coming out to speak. here they are. >> just four months ago, my wife jackie and i lost our son. and our children, james and natalie, they lost their little brother, daniel. daniel was a first grader at sandy hook elementary school. our sweet 7-year-old daniel was one of 20 children, 6 adults lost on december 14th. i have to say, it feels like it
was just yesterday. in our deepest grief, we were supported by the love of our families and comforted by the love and prayers we received from millions of america. from every corner of the coun y country. what happened in newtown can happen anywhere. in any instant. any dad in america could be in my shoes. no one should feel the pain. no one should feel our pain or the pain felt by the tens of thousands of people who've lost loved ones to senseless gun violence. and that's why we're here. two weeks ago, 12 of us from newtown came to meet with u.s. senators and have a conversation about how to bring common sense solutions to the issues of gun violence. we came with a sense of hope, optimistic that real conversation could begin that would ultimately save the lives
of so many americans. we met with dozens of democrats and republicans and shared with them pictures of our children, our spouses, our parents who lost their lives on december 14th. expanded background checks wouldn't have saved our loved ones, but still we came to support a bipartisan proposal from two senators, both with "a" ratings from the nra. a common sense proposal supported by 90% of americans. it's a proposal that will save lives without interfering with the rights of responsible, law-abiding gun owners. we'll return home now, disappointed, but not defeated. we return home with a determination that change will happen. maybe not today, but it will happen. it will happen soon. we've always known this would be a long road, and we don't have the luxury of turning back.
we will keep moving forward and build public support for common sense solutions in the areas of mental health, school safety, and gun safety. we take strength from the children and loved ones that we lost, and we carry a great faith in the american people. on behalf of the sandy hook promise, i would like to thank president obama, vice president biden for their leadership and for standing strong and continuing to fight for a safer america. i would like to thank senators toomey, manchin, schumer and kirk for coming together to seek common ground on legislation that would keep guns out of the hands of criminals and save lives. and i would like to thank connecticut's senators, bloomenthal and murphy. they've been with us. they stood with us from the very beginning. from the first few hours of this tragedy they were with us. we will not be defeated. we are not defeated, and we will
not be defeated. we are here now, we will always be here, because we have no other choice. we are not going away. and every day, as more people are killed in this country because of gun violence, our determination grows stronger. we leave washington hoping that others, both here and across the country, will join us in making the sandy hook promise. a pledge that we had great hope that more u.s. senators would take literally. i'd like to end by repeating the words with which the sandy hook promise begins. our hearts are broken. our spirit is not. thank you. it is now my great pleasure to introduce the president of the united states of america, barack obama.
>> good job. a few months ago in response to too many tragedies, including the shootings of a united states congresswoman, gabby gifford, who's here today, and the murder of 20 innocent school children and their teachers, this country took up the cause of protecting more of our people from gun violence. families that know unspeakable grief summoned the courage to petition their elected leaders. not just to honor the memory of their children, but to protect the lives of all of our children. a few minutes ago, a minority in the united states senate decided it wasn't worth it. they blocked common sense gun reforms, even while these
families looked on from the senate gallery. by now it's well known that 90% of the american people support universal background checks that make it harder for a dangerous person to buy a gun. we're talking about convicted felons, people convicted of domestic violence, people with a severe mental illness. 90% of americans support that idea. most americans think that's already the law. and a few minutes ago, 90% of democrats in the senate voted for that idea. but it's not going to happen. because 90% of republicans in the senate just voted against that idea. a majority of senators voted yes to protecting more of our citizens with smarter background
checks. but by this continuing distortion of senate rules, a minority was able to block it from moving forward. i'm going to speak plainly and honestly about what's happened here. because the american people are trying to figure out, how can something have 90% support and yet not happen? we had a democrat and a republican, both gun owners, both fierce defenders of our second amendment, with "a" grades from the nra, come together and work together to write a common sense compromise on background checks. and i want to thank joe manchin and pat toomey for their courage in doing that. that was not easy. given their traditional strong support for second amendment rights. as they said, nobody could honestly claim that the package
they put together infringed on our second amendment rights. all it did was extend the same background check rules that already apply to guns purchased from a dealer to guns purchased as gun shows or over the internet. so 60% of guns are already purchased through a background check system. this would have covered a lot of the guns that are currently outside that system. their legislation showed respect for gun owners, and it showed respect for the victims of gun violence. and gabby giffords, by the way, is both. she's a gun owner and a victim of gun violence. she is as s wwesterner and a moderate. and she supports these background checks. in fact, even the nra yugs euse support expanded background checks. the current leader of the nra used to support these background
checks. so while this compromise didn't contain everything i wanted or everything that these families wanted, it did represent progress. it represented moderation and common sense. that's why 90% of the american people supported it. but instead of supporting this compromise, the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill. they claimed that it would create some sort of big brother gun registry. even though the bill did the opposite. this legislation, in fact, outlawed any registry. plain and simple. right there in the text. but that didn't matter. and, unfortunately, this pattern of spreading untruths about this legislation served a purpose. because those lies upset an
intense minority of gun owners. that in term intimidated a lot of senators. and i talked to several of these senators over the past few weeks. and they're all good people. i know all of them were shocked by tragedies like newtown. and i also understand that they come from states that are strongly progun. and i've consistently said that there are regional differences when it comes to guns. and that both sides have to listen to each other. but the fact is, most of these senators could not offer any good reason why we wouldn't want to make it harder for criminals and those with severe mental illnesses to buy a gun. the worry that that vocal minority of gun owners would come after them in future
elections. they worried that the gun lobby would spend a lot of money and paint them as anti-second amendment. and obviously a lot of republicans had that fear, but democrats had that fear, too. and so they caved to the pressure. and they started looking for an excuse, any excuse, to vote no. one common argument i heard was that this legislation wouldn't prevent all future massacres. and that's true. as i said from the start, no single piece of legislation can stop every act of violence and evil. we learned that tragically just two days ago. but if action by congress could have saved one person, one child, a few hundred, a few thousand, if it could have prevented those people from losing their lives to gun
violence in the future while preserving our second amendment rights, we had an obligation to try it. and this legislation met that test. and too many senators failed theirs. i've heard some say that blocking this step would be a victory. and my question is, a victory for who? a victory for what? all that happened today was the preservation of the loophole that lets dangerous criminals buy guns without a background check. that didn't make our kids safer. victory for not doing something that 90% of americans, 80% of republicans, the vast majority of your constituents wanted to get done? it begs the question, who -- who are we here to represent?
i've heard folks say that having the families of victims lobby for this legislation was somehow misplaced. a prop, somebody called them. emotional blackmail, some outlets said. are they serious? do we really think that thousands of families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence don't have a right to weigh in on this issue? do we think their emotions, their loss, is not relevant to this debate? so all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for washington. but this effort is not over. i want to make it clear to the american people, we can still bring about meaningful changes that reduce gun violence so long
as the american people don't give up on it. even without congress, my administration will keep doing everything it can to protect more of our communities. we're going to address the barriers that prevent states from we're going to address the existing background system. we're going to help put in place emergency plans to protect our children in their schools. but we can do more if congress gets its act together. and if this congress refuses to listen to the american people and pass commonsense gun legislation, then the real impact is going to have to come from the voters. to all the people who supported this legislation, law enforcement and responsible gun owners, democrats and republicans, urban moms, rural
hunters, whoever you are, you need to let your representatives in congress know that you are disappointed and that if they don't act this time, you will remember come election time. to the wide majority of nra households who participated in this legislation, you need to let your leaders in lobbyists know they didn't represent your views on this one. the point is, those who cared deeply about preventing more and more gun violence will have to be as passionate and as organized and as vocal as those who blocked these commonsense steps to help keep our kids safe. ultimately, you outnumber them. they are financed and have been
at it longer and they make sure to stay focused on this one issue during election time. and that's why you can have something that 90% of americans support and you can't get it through the house of representatives. so to change washington, you, the american people, are going to have to sustain some passion about this. and you've got to send the right people to washington. and that requires strength. and it requires persistence. and that's the one thing that these families should haven fired in all of us. i still don't know how they have been able to muster up the strength to be doing what they have over the last several weeks, last several months. and i see this as just round
one. when newtown happened, i met with these folks and i spoke with the community and i said something must be different right now. we're going to have to change. everybody talked about how we were going to change something to make sure this didn't happen. again. just like everybody talked about how we needed to do something after aurora. everybody talked about we need to change something after tucson. and i'm assuming that the emotions that we all felt since you newtonn, since aurora and chicago, the pain we share with these families and families all across the country who lost
loved ones to gun violence, i'm assuming that's not a temporary thing. i'm assuming our expressions of grief and our commitment to do something different to prevent these things from happening are not empty words. i believe we are going to be able to get this done. sooner or later, we are going to get this right. the memories of children demand it and so do the american people. thank you very much, everybody. >> that was a powerful speech. >> it was. >> righteous indignation was the feeling behind it. >> that's right. it's as angry and forceful that i've seen in public. i've rarely seen any president
give that kind of performance of righteous indignation and i would assume it's the end of legislating and the beginning of campaigning because what the president said here is, look, the people in favor of gun reform need to be as organized and as focused as the nra is. that means the american people have to get in the ball game and what he's really saying is, we're going to carry this forward. >> will it matter that people feel that 90% of the american people have been rebuffed by a republican form of government, a government that's meant to represent them? >> i think it will definitely mean a lot. this is a cry in washington as well as reform of gun laws and the president can argue and his allies can argue in the upcoming midterm elections that this can be a symbol of both. that in order to effect change in washington, you need to change the way things work. more people need to get involved again. >> sure. >> so the president can sort of
re-up his message. >> casey, thank you for joining us. you're a straight reporter. first of all, the president was rebuffing, rebutting what rand paul said this morning at that christian science monitor breakfast when he came out and said, i think this is pretty cold, regardless of the politics. he talks about in some cases the president has used these people, the parents of the people killed at newtown as props. the president responded to that tonight. now, this is getting to the very heart of the question about the role play by private citizens in legislation. is there something wrong with people who have a particular interest or kids were blown away, in coming to the hill, in saying that they want the government to do something? are they interfering? are they et goietting in the wa of the nra and patrol along capitol hill, paying people off, using them. but for people who have real kids, who are now not alive anymore, for them to show up is somehow intervening,
interrupting the flow of lousy government. it's really unbelievable what rapd paul said. this is not libertarian. this is rotten. how can you say, people, i thought it was great -- letting the people themselves -- in fact, mr. mark barden to come on and lead the way in expression of this bad vote. >> reporter: the way the president began this angry speech was with families which indicates the power that they have and the power that the folks up here on the hill have been hearing. i was talking to chris murphy, the senator from connecticut earlier today. he said, you know, these families aren't just going to be here for this one vote. what happened to them has turned them into advocates for 40-plus years. i imagine this is not the last that we'll be seeing of them and they will be up here next to the professionals in the years to come. >> let me ask you about the republicans. the president, i know, wasn't really a partisan speech but he was talking about the people that didn't vote what he thought
was the right way today to get them 60 votes. you've got four democrats off there from red states. was he talking to them or was he talking to the 90% of the republican party that voted against any extension of the background check today? >> reporter: that's really my question. the question up here as well has been where to place the plam. the democrats are trying to deflect it and put it on republicans but my question at this point is, is he going to campaign for some of these folks who he might have to help senator harry reid hang on to the senate coming up. >> you mean baucus and pryor? >> heitkamp is not up in 2014 but the other two are. >> they didn't pass the test. >> they didn't pass the test and caved to the pressure. >> who is he referring to? >> that's a very good question.
>> that's a very good question, kasie. i mean, seriously, is he going to go out and peick out democras and say, i forgive what you did here and blast red state republicans. kasie, you and i know this. if they belong, if they are shotgun willy or whatever, they are not going to get defeated. so how can he make any change in 2014 while he's still president to achieve some kind of gun safety in the next three years? how's he going to do it? >> well, i mean, they are probably hammering that out right now to try and do it. you heard him there talking about how what the gun safety advocates need to do is not forget. i imagine that will involve him urging his own campaign organization to make sure they don't forget. they've been active in pushing this issue and lobbying for gun safety. we'll have to look and see what they do over the course of the next couple of years. >>e